Soak up some sun on a beach vacation

Center for Collaborative JournalismMay 5, 2013 

The southeastern coast is home to many scenic beach vacation destinations. Among those beaches, Hilton Head, Tybee and St. Simons islands are popular for their beautiful scenery and warm climates.

Hilton Head Island

The island of Hilton Head is located off South Carolina’s southernmost tip. This beach destination is about 205 miles away from Macon, or about a three and a half hour drive. The Hilton Head Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport are the closest airports to the island resorts. The Hilton Head Airport Shuttle Service called KShuttle is available at both of these airports to transport travelers to their desired resort destinations.

Hilton Head’s famous Port Royal sound can be heard throughout the island’s sandy shores. Seven beaches are accessible to the public through the Town of Hilton Head Island including: Fish Haul Park, Alder Lane Beach Access, Driessen Beach Park, Folly Field Beach Park, Burkes Beach Access, Coligny Beach Park and Islanders Beach Park. The island also has a wide selection of golf courses.

While vacationing here, visitors have myriad activities to choose from including kayaking, zip lining, nature preserves, dolphin tours, spas and water sports. For a more educational vacation, explore Hilton Head’s heritage through historic places including Civil War sites, plantations and shell rings left by the native Ewascus Indians. Vacationers can also indulge their cultural sensibilities by visiting the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. During May, Hilton Head hosts a variety of events through the BRAVO Arts & Cultural Festival.

Hilton Head offers a variety of lodging spaces for a variety of budgets including resorts, vacation houses, villa rentals and hotels. Resorts located in this area vary from spa and tennis themed to golf themed. The average nightly cost of a hotel room is about $164 per night. However, there are housing options that will fit a wide variety of price ranges. Popular restaurants in Hilton Head include Crane’s Tavern Steakhouse & Seafood, Red Fish, Scott’s Fishmarket Restaurant & Bar, Truffles Grill and Flatbread Grill Bar.

Tybee Island

The Island of Tybee is located right outside Savannah, just off Georgia’s Atlantic coast. The small-town experience present in Tybee is uncommon among popular beach locations in this area. The island is located 185 miles away from Macon, or about a three-hour drive. Tybee Beach Shuttle service takes beachgoers between Savannah and Tybee Island. The shuttle costs $3 per person.

Tybee Island is comprised of five main beaches including: Savannah River, Back River, North, South and Mid Beach. Being able to stay active on vacation while still soaking up the sun is easy to do with all of the outdoor entertainment. These activities include biking, bird watching, water sports and visiting local parks. The oldest and tallest lighthouse in Georgia is located on Tybee and was built in 1773. The island is also home to the historic Fort Screven, which was used as a part of the United States Coastal Defense during the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. These are only two of the historical sites available to tourists on Tybee.

River Street, located on Savannah’s bluff, is a popular shopping location where visitors can take a break from relaxing on the beach and spend a day in the city. Tybee offers a variety of festivals during the summer such as the Tybee Wine Festival, Tybee Island Kite Flying Festival and the Annual Beach Bum Parade. The Island houses a unique selection of art galleries, including the Atlantic Beacon Gallery Co-Op and the Fish Art Gallery. Little Tybee Island is a nature preserve off the coast of Tybee.

Tybee offers an assortment of lodging options, including resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, recreational vehicles and camping. The average cost of a hotel room on Tybee Island is about $264 per night. Seafood restaurants are popular in this area. Some well-known dining places are Dolphin Reef Oceanfront Restaurant, Lighthouse Pizza, Sting Ray’s Seafood, Fannies on the Beach and Coco’s Sunset Grille.

St. Simons Island

St. Simons is the largest island off the Atlantic Coast of Georgia. It is located 231 miles away from Macon, or about a three and a half hour drive. The island is made up of two public beaches. The first beach, Massingale Park, is the most popular because fishing and parking are free. The second beach, Coast Guard Station, maintains slightly stricter rules. Both beaches have lifeguards during the summer months.

For a more relaxed vacation experience, visit one of St. Simons’ many spas such as Island Day Spa and Cloister Spa at Sea Island. St. Simons also offers other fun attractions including the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, St. Simons Lighthouse Museum and a variety of art galleries. Those seeking a more active vacation can go biking on the island’s nature trails, head out fishing or do a variety of water sports available to visitors. Eight golf courses are located on St. Simons including: The Golf Club at Sanctuary Cove, King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, Frederica Golf Club, Brunswick Country Club, Jekyll Island Golf Club, Sea Palms Golf & Tennis Resort, Coastal Pines Golf Club and Sea Island Golf Club.

St. Simons offers different types of lodging including bed and breakfasts, hotels, vacation rentals, resorts and inns. The average cost of a hotel room on St. Simons is $107 per night. Once visitors settle in, they have plenty of dining options to pick from. Some of these options include Delaney’s Bistro and Bar, the Rooftop at Ocean Lodge, Saltwater Cowboy, Coastal Kitchen and Raw Bar and the Georgia Sea Grill.

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